Pay Attention, Children! Doing the Right Thing Isn’t Right If It Violates A Stupid Rule!

Then, after this relaxing break, he returned to his supervisor position in Wayne County…

It appears that no-tolerance policies in the schools may not be alienating students after all. Some of them, at least in Michigan, are learning the no-tolerance way and applying it in the workplace.

Not John Chevilott, though: he just doesn’t get it, probably because when he went to school, they didn’t have no-tolerance policies. A veteran public-works employee in Wayne County, Michigan, he was mowing grass in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood when he found a loaded revolver. He called the police and waited for them to  pick up the gun, but they didn’t appear. Chevilott finished the job and took the weapon to the police after work. The gun had been stolen in 2005, records showed, and police told him that he had handled the situation well.

Wayne County, however, has a no-tolerance policy forbidding employees from possessing  weapons on work property. After all, there’s no reason for a worker to have a gun, except in the extraordinary situation where one is just hanging around, loaded, and the worker picks it up. But how often would that happen? It’s no wonder nothing about that situation was written into the rule, and rules, as they say in the schools—the schools where kids chew their pizzas into the shape of pistols and get suspended, the schools where kids disarm fellow students of knives and are expelled, and the schools where four-year-old boys kiss girls and get arrested for sexual assault—“rules are rules!”

John Chevilott, who had been on the job 23 years and scheduled to retire in two days, was fired for violating the policy, even though his supervisors understood that the gun wasn’t his, that he had turned it into police, that it was loaded, that it was as much a threat to public safety lying in the grass as any weapon brought to work by an employee, and that he had “possessed it” only to get it into the hands of law enforcement officials.  To be fair, they also suspended Chevilott’s foreman, who knew about the incident, for not reporting the infraction. Continue reading